For those of you wondering what to ask Santa to bring, a second round of favorite craft books…
Joan Aiken, The Way to Write for Children. This little book is no longer out of print, I'm delighted to report. After I read it on loan from a friend, one of my advisors at Vermont College of Fine Arts found it on EBAY and made a gift of it to me (thank you, Sarah!). But you can now find it here. Simple, easy to read, and still fresh in outlook, this text is a fabulous introduction to children’s book writing.
Eve Heidi Bine-Stock, How to Write a Children’s Picture Book. If you want to write picture books, you really must read this craft book. Bine-Stock analyzes the story-arc structure of a large number of well-known picture books (which you also must read) and she makes it look almost easy. Which it is not. Which Joan Aiken (above) will clearly spell out.
Darcy Pattison, Novel Metamorphosis. I’ve raved about this one before. If you are revising a novel, pick up this book, available on order or on line. Walk through her exercises. You’ll learn a lot. Better yet, find out where she’s holding a workshop and take this book along with your manuscript – you’ll have a far better novel in the end.
Thomas McCormack, The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist. Odd title, terrific book. This text takes a very different approach – McCormack comes from the editorial side and is speaking to editors. But as a writer, I learned what this talented man was searching for in a great literary work, and his idea of the “master-effect” (what you might call theme, although that’s a crass way of putting it) is nothing short of brilliant.
Francine Prose, Reading Like a Writer. If you want to be a writer, you must also be a reader. Prose tackles every aspect of writing but from the outside in. This is a dense and meaty book that took me a couple of weeks to read. I need to read it again. And I want to read each of her examples as I go.
Now you have a few things to put on your holiday wish list!!